18 insights of top online entrepreneurs

Original author: Alex Turnbull
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The founders of Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics, Unbounce, Olark, Moz and Grasshopper share their thoughts on how to work with large customers, how to determine the true price of a product, who brings money to the project, what things should not be wasted time and effort, and how to keep up.


Hiten Shah, co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics



1) Always have a free tariff

“Once in Crazy Egg ( heatmap service) we decided to“ kill ”a free tariff for new customers. The measure allowed to increase revenues for some time, but in the long term it was not the best solution. If I founded SaaS service today, I would never have touched the “free” plan.

By the way, his companion Neil Patel regrets the same thing.

2) Speed ​​is everything

“I think speed is the greatest weapon for startups. When I see an obvious solution, I want to implement it as quickly as possible. The fate of the company often depends on the speed of decision-making. I even came up with my own formula, “Speed ​​= Concentration + Consistency.” Break your development into small steps. So you will have a clearer movement towards the goal, without throwing to the sides. "

3) Study and apply the expressions that your customers use

“Pay particular attention to how your target audience formulates their problems and tasks. This is very useful in describing solutions on the site and promotional materials. Take interviews, study forums and blogs. ”

Rick Perrault, Director and Co-Founder, Unbounce



4) Use Facebook Ads to Test Ideas

“When I had a problem and needed a solution, I wanted to understand how important this is for other people. It turned out that the same problem is tormenting many of my friend feeds. Then I created an ad on Facebook, targeted marketing colleagues and sent them to the questionnaire page. As a result, I received 42 emails of users interested in the solution. The more feedback you get, the more viable your business idea is. ”

5) Do not succumb to the pressure of large customers

"It is very difficult to resist the temptation to meet a large company that says:" Hey guys, finish this feature, then we will buy it. " This is an illusion. In Unbounce (Landing Designer) we spent two years trying to please everyone who asked us to finish something.
Focus on a specific audience segment and work for them. ”

6) Do not be afraid to raise prices

“First, we had tariff plans for $ 10 and $ 25, despite the fact that the acquisition of one client cost about $ 150. The average life expectancy of a paying user was 4 months, because most simply experimented with Unbounce (at that time it was a new product on the market), and also took a lot of time and money for technical support, explaining the nuances of work.

And only after raising prices we began to attract marketers with a good budget. Support costs declined as it was a savvy audience.

You must have a balance between the cost of the product and the profile of consumers. In other words, attract people who understand the value of the solution and are willing to pay an acceptable price for it. With cheap tariff plans, you will get a crowd that will be forever not satisfied with some things. She will simply devour your time and energy. ”

Ben Congleton, Director and Co-Founder, Olark



7) Conflict can be very valuable

“When startup co-founders spend as much time as possible with each other, this allows them to quickly find the best ways to interact, ways to solve these or those problems. And here conflicts help a lot. Yes, do not be afraid to argue and curse. A strong team is born in the “battle” of characters. In addition, you will learn the whole truth about yourself) ”

8) Hire yourself for a job

“Although this is a startup, you should not feel poor. As soon as the opportunity arose, we began to pay ourselves a salary even before we hired the first employee. ”

9) Determine the border of paying and free users

“We simulated data on the work with the service (online consultant) on the chart and realized that the threshold followed by active use is 20 chats per month. This is the figure we put in the free plan. Users with fewer sessions rated significantly lower the role of the service in their business.

Determine the exact criterion (number of sessions, number of created projects, work hours, etc.) of the product value in the eyes of your customers and focus on the active part. However, do not remove the free plan. Many of these users are brand advocates + word of mouth. ”

Neil Patel, Founder of Quick Sprout , Co-Founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics



10) You REALLY have enough time

“When someone says that he does not have enough time, it’s just nonsense. It's all about priorities. There is no time to write an article on the blog, but there is time for 3 hours of gatherings in front of the TV or a trip with friends to the bar. Yes, most likely, you will have to give up the “little joys of life” for a while. If you really want to achieve something in business - prioritize what to invest your time and energy into.

The Rescue Time tool helps me. It shows where I am wasting my time and how to set up a business schedule to focus on the most important tasks. ”

11) Wake up earlier

“I do a significant part of the work in the morning, regardless of the urgency of the task. In the morning, it’s much easier to do some complicated things that “do not reach your hands” during the day.

12) Create content for paying customers

“When we just started doing content marketing, we wrote“ for everyone ”in order to attract traffic. This was a mistake because they chose the wrong goals. We taught people how to optimize a blog. At the same time, our audience is not bloggers, but SaaS and e-commerce.
Content should be useful primarily to potential customers - those who are willing to pay you money, those who help your product. "

Read more about the experience of Neil Patel in the material “7 revelations of Neil Patel: how to avoid 100 million errors, how not to fly through a startup and what kind of helicopter ROI” .

Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz



13) Set extraordinary, bold goals

“My favorite example is the lunar mission. Send a person to the surface of the Moon and return him safely to Earth. Extremely clear, measurable goal and exact criterion for completing a task. Very relevant in IT and e-commerce. So you understand what exactly needs to be done. Figuratively speaking, to build a spaceship, calculate fuel, develop special shoes for astronauts and so on. One big and short-term goals around it. ”

14) You can build a corporate culture with a minimum of money

“Just find the things that unite you. To play an online game together after a working day, to get together on a picnic on the weekend - you don’t need a lot of money for this. ”

15) Optimize communication methods

“Two things support my communication - email and calendar. All tasks are there. I practically do not respond to messages on Facebook and LinkedIn (sometimes up to 700 messages accumulate there). Because it will take all my time.
Choose 1-2 convenient communication channels, otherwise you will “drown” in the flow of information. ”

Read more about Rand Fishkin’s experience in the article “How to build a company with a turnover of $ 35,000,000 without a single seller. The story of Rand Fishkin . "

David Hozer, Director and Co-Founder of Grasshopper



16) Squeeze out everything you can from every situation, every meeting

“According to preliminary estimates, building servers and hosting in a data center should have cost us a million dollars, but we got it for $ 150,000. Because we learned how to sell our“ history ”and agreed on crazy conditions in a good sense with contractors and suppliers. In fact, they lent money in the form of equipment.

We did not turn to large companies, but went to a small business, where we talked with company owners - we told the story of how we were going to work for hundreds of thousands of customers. As a result, a year later we had the opportunity to buy 20 servers instead of one.

Yes, we showed a business plan, but ultimately sold a product vision, a business vision. ”

17) Paid advertising works

“The experts who are broadcasting about viral marketing and free methods of disseminating information are very annoying. Yes, we have a blog, communities on social networks, but we are convinced that we would miss great opportunities due to the refusal of paid campaigns (contextual advertising, Facebook). It just works. People buy a product because they see ads. ”

18) Do not waste time on untwisted resources

“Publishing on sites such as TechCrunch will give you SEO growth thanks to external links, but this is the only benefit. It’s great to be in the Hacker News TOP, but what's the point if you don’t get into your target audience?
The funny thing is that TechCrunch stubbornly did not want to write about us. Despite the fact that they posted material about our competitors with much lower revenue volumes.

Go where your potential customers are. Likes and views on TOP resources do nothing but satisfy vanity. ”

Comment by Yagla.ru founder Alexander Alimov

For ourselves, we found a whole series of moments that we also encountered in our project. Moreover, this is not always the same vision as that of TOP colleagues. For example, Hiten Shah has an opinion about the free tariff. In Jagla, we also went through freemium, and through the trial. As a result, they decided to “kill” them, since only paying customers were involved in the actual implementation of the product. In more or less complex services, the free category simply does not reach a measurable result: they registered - "poked" - dropped out. Or they didn’t try to do anything at all. In RuNet, the mentality is very different towards putting aside “for later”. In 99% of cases, this means - never.

Rick Perrault's insights from Unbounce - right to the point. Until now, we constantly hear objections: “guys, let's finish this and that, then we work with you.” And just from major customers. We answer that if another 10 clients ask for the same feature, we will do it. In fact, the “vital function” of the weather does not. We simply have not shown the full value of the product. The same goes for prices. In the summer, we increased them 4 times. At the same time, revenue grew by 26%.

Which of the 18 insights is close to you? Share your opinions and experiences in the comments.

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